SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The City of Savannah's battle against blight extends far beyond run-down homes, it also covers litter, from cigarette butts to illegal dump sites.
Savannah will soon be able to partner with Metro police to help enforce litter laws that haven't been as much of a priority in recent years. For the majority of the past couple years, city marshals have issued courtesy tickets if they see someone tossing down a cigarette or other piece of garbage, without a fine attached to it. That will soon change.
What have had the big fines, and charges in some cases, are the illegal dump sites.
"It's not an uncommon thing, we do get these types of calls all the time," said Inspector Maya Jackson with Property Maintenance. Jackson said she's averaged one investigation a week for the past few months.
Jackson said, "Essentially it's blight, it doesn't look good and it concerns a lot of neighbors, especially with property values and just the overall quality of where they live."
Jackson and other inspectors often use old-fashioned detective work to identify the dumper, looking for names on pieces of mail, even pill bottles, to help them make a case.
Soon, they won't be the only ones cracking down on litterbugs.
"When you have more hands on a situation, you can better control it and we can create a better quality of life for our residents," added Jackson.
City reps want to be clear about the co-op with police.
"We don't want the public to think that we're redirecting police resources to bust up litter-ers," said Bret Bell, with the City of Savannah.
Bell said keeping an eye out for those tossing trash on the ground will be just one job for officers, not a sole focus.
"Litter in a neighborhood sends a signal to criminals that this is a place where criminality is tolerated," said Bell.
Cynthia Hopson, President of the Edgemere-Sackville Neighborhood Association agrees wholeheartedly.
"If other people coming into our neighborhood to visit or just drive through see that the residents don't care, they don't care either," Hopson said.
Hopson, sometimes with the help of others, tries to be part of the solution by picking up trash once a week. This weekend is the neighborhood's big spring cleanup, which will be an effort to get more on board with keeping the streets clean and safe.
As for the litter enforcement partnership between the City and the police department, that will get off the ground this year once a plan is completely worked out.